Cassoulet, a hearty slow-simmered stew of sausage, confit (typically duck), pork, and white beans, is one of the great hallmarks of French country cuisine. The best versions are cooked for hours until the beans and meat meld into a dish of luxuriant, velvety richness. As chef-author Molly Stevens says “There is no single best cassoulet, and, perhaps more importantly, feel free to adapt this rustic dish to suit your own appetite and cooking routines.”
Typically, a traditional French cassoulet should be cooked, then cooled, preferably overnight, then cooked and cooled again — at least three times. Multiple slow simmerings allow the beans to absorb the rich flavors of the sausage and duck confit until they become velvety and plush while still maintaining their shape and integrity. Ideally, it is made over the course of four days, but not here.
This “lazy” version remains the simplest: one that you can get on the dinner table in about an hour. Start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (unless you have leftover roast chicken, which works great, too). If you have duck fat on hand, which we did, use it to sauté the chicken for an extra flavor boost (and because that’s the fat most used in southwest France), but any neutral-tasting oil will do. Either way, the chicken should be tender, cooked through, and well-seasoned.
Then it’s a matter of sautéing an onion, a healthy amount of garlic, and a heap of smoked sausage to create a flavor base that will carry through the entire dish. A bit of tomato paste ups the umami quotient, and a splash of white wine contributes just enough acid to balance the richness. From there, everything gets gently folded together with cooked white beans (canned or home-cooked), spread in a shallow dish (either a gratin or a heavy skillet), topped with breadcrumbs, and baked until bubbling hot on the inside and crunchy-golden on top. Unbelievably decadent and delicious!
Make Ahead: The dish may be prepared through step 5, covered, and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day ahead.
FYI, we doubled the andouille sausage because we only had about half the amount of chicken thighs.
Lazy Chicken-and-Sausage Cassoulet
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
- 1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 tsp. black pepper, divided
- 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil, divided
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
- 6 oz. smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 15-oz. cans white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Season chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken thighs, smooth side down. Cook, undisturbed, adjusting heat as necessary so thighs cook evenly without scorching, until edges turn opaque and bottoms are nicely browned, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook until internal temperature reaches 165°F, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside on a plate. Do not wipe skillet clean.
- Return skillet and any drippings to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and sausage. Cook, stirring often, until onion is tender and light golden, about 6 minutes.
- Add garlic, thyme, allspice, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until heated through and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add wine and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans, stock, and 2 tablespoons oil; bring to a simmer.
- Shred chicken into bite-size pieces; add to onion mixture along with any drippings that have accumulated on the plate. Transfer to an 8- x 11-inch baking dish. Spread into an even layer. (If cooking later, cover the dish with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.)
- Toss breadcrumbs with remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Scatter breadcrumbs over bean mixture.
- Bake in preheated oven until heated through, top is browned, and sides are bubbly, about 20 minutes. (If baking from refrigerated, bake an additional 5 to 10 additional minutes.)
- Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes. Serve.
Recipe by Molly Stevens for Food & Wine